Lynx graduates at Daytona and Indy

Harmonic Convergence Fast Facts *Six graduates of the Lynx Racing driver development program will race as both teammates and competitors -- in this year's 24 Hours of Daytona and Indy 500 *Owned by two women, Lynx Racing is the most ...

Harmonic Convergence

Fast Facts

*Six graduates of the Lynx Racing driver development program will race as both teammates and competitors -- in this year's 24 Hours of Daytona and Indy 500

*Owned by two women, Lynx Racing is the most successful combination of championship-winning racing team and driver development program in open-wheel racing history.

*Lynx graduates racing in the 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona include 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, as well as Champ Car drivers Memo Gidley and Michael Valiante.

*The Lynx Racing `Destiny by Design' program includes a $2.5 million, 2- year `scholarship' to race in the Toyota Atlantic series, and focused on mental development as well as on-track skills.

More than a dozen of the world's top young racers have graduated from Lynx Racing a unique combination of championship-winning racing team and driver development program owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty.

And in 2005, by one of those coincidences that seem somehow inevitable half of them will be racing at the 24 Hours of Daytona or the Indy 500... or both.

Among the extensive cast of racing stars competing in this year's legendary twice-around-the-clock endurance race in Daytona, Florida are Lynx graduates Michael Valiante, Memo Gidley, both highly-regarded Champ Car drivers, as well as 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice.

Valiante and Gidley, both of whom graduated directly from the Lynx Atlantic team to Champ Cars, will co-drive the #19 Ten Motorsports Riley BMW with fellow teammates Michael McDowell and Jonathan Bomarito. Gidley is one of Champ Car's most popular drivers, and has raced for a variety of teams including Walker Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Player's/Forsythe, Target Chip Ganassi and Rocketsports. Valiante made his Champ Car debut in the series' 2004 season finale at Mexico City with Walker Racing.

The Ten Motorsports team got off to an excellent start at the recent 3-day, 74-car test for teams competing at Daytona. The team's #19 Riley BMW was never out of the top five and wound up with the second-fastest lap (by less than 2/10ths of a second) of the test. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will take place February 4-6 and can be seen live on Speed TV.

The Lynx connection with this team actually goes even deeper; the duo running the Ten Motorsports Daytona Prototype program are Kiwi brothers Steve and Rick Cameron, who not only ran the Lynx effort for ten years, but were also `technical advisers' for the Valley Motorsports team with which Michael McDowell dominated the 2004 Formula Mazda series, scoring seven poles and eight victories.

And knowledgeable racing fans will recognize the familiar car number 19 that was also used on the Lynx Atlantic cars driven over the past decade by Carpentier, Gidley, Rice and Valiante.

Rice will race for a different team, the #67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, sharing driving duties with Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Boris Said. Rice competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona several years ago, but this will be his first race in a Daytona Prototype.

"This is one of the few venues that you can get people from so many different motorsports and put them all together," he said. "I think that makes it exciting. It's fun for all of us. We know so many different people in different forms of racing. For us to all be able to run together is cool."

And when Rice completes his Daytona duties and returns to the cockpit of his #15 Rahal Letterman G-Force Honda for the start of the 2005 IRL season, he will find himself lining up against the formidable new teaming of Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, both driving Toyota-powered Dallaras for Red Bull Cheever Racing. Like Rice, Barron and Carpentier are both graduates of the Lynx Racing team; Carpentier won the team's first championship in 1996, followed by Barron, who won the Toyota Atlantic title in 1997.

Both Carpentier and Barron graduated directly from the Lynx Atlantic team to Champ Cars; Carpentier won the 1996 Atlantic championship with 9 victories in 12 starts, eight of them in a row from the pole a record that stands to this day. He was the 1997 Champ Car `Rookie of the Year' with Bettenhausen Racing, then moved to the all-Canadian Player's/Forsythe team in 1998, where he remained until the end of 2004. He won five races during his Champ Car career, and finished 3rd in the 2004 championship.

Barron won the Atlantic championship and the `Rookie of the Year' award in the same year, 1997, scoring five victories as Memo Gidley's teammate at Lynx Racing. Barron moved up to Champ Cars in 1998 with Dan Gurney's All-American Racers, and became the first Champ Car driver to lead a race lap with a Toyota engine. He switched to the Indy Racing League in 2001 and drove his first full IRL season in 2002 where he won at Nashville and was the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. He drove for several teams in 2003, won at Michigan with Mo Nunn Racing and replaced Buddy Rice at Red Bull Cheever Racing for the final three races of the season.

Rice, who ran three years with Lynx Racing (one in F2000 and two in Toyota Atlantic), was signed to run the last five races of the 2002 season with Red Bull Cheever Racing and finished second in his very first race. He ran 13 of 16 races with the team in 2003 before being replaced by Barron. Rice was hired by Rahal Letterman Racing at the end of 2003 to replace the injured Kenny Brack. Rice won three races with the team, including the Indy 500, in 2004.

"One of the dreams Jackie and I had when we started Lynx Racing was that someday one of our drivers would win a big race, and Buddy achieved that last year when he won the Indy 500," says Lynx co-owner Peggy Haas. "For 2005, we'll have three Lynx drivers taking the green flag at Indy, all of them driving for top teams with a realistic chance to win. And Jackie and I will be there, cheering our heads off for all three of them."

Lynx Racing, the most successful driver development program in the history of open-wheel racing, is the creation of two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. The duo met in 1990, and formed the Lynx team in 1991 with a rented race car. Lynx went on to become the winningest team in the 30-year history of the intensely competitive Toyota Atlantic series.

Lynx provided a 2-year, $2.5 million `scholarship' to young drivers with the potential to reach the top levels of Motorsports, and utilized a unique training program called `Destiny by Design' that focused on a driver's mental and emotional training as well as their on-track skills. The Lynx Racing Toyota Atlantic team ceased operations at the end of 2004, but remains involved in helping its graduates realize their full potential.

"That all of our graduates are coming together in this way doesn't really surprise me at all," says Lynx co-owner Jackie Doty. "The universe works that way, a kind of `harmonic convergence' of highly-skilled, highly-motivated young racers at the height of their powers who went through the same training process. I not only wish them great success, I will go so far as to predict it."

-lynxracing.com-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Dale Coyne Racing , Krohn Racing